Jeff Eisenberg

  • LSU's new ad campaign shamelessly promotes top recruit Ben Simmons

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    At a time when the NCAA is fighting the perception it profits from the images and likenesses of its unpaid athletes, one of its member schools has launched an advertising campaign that will only further weaken that already shaky argument.

    LSU is using highly touted incoming freshman basketball player Ben Simmons as the centerpiece of a 2015-16 season ticket promotional blitz that will include billboards and print and social media advertising. The "25 is Coming" campaign is such a blatant reference to Simmons' jersey number that the school didn't even bother to pretend otherwise in the release it sent out Wednesday.

    A New Era: LSU official tells me it had permission from Ben Simmons to market him like this, compliance approved it

    A tweet Simmons sent Wednesday evening corroborates the notion that he was aware of the campaign and he is on board with it.

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  • John Calipari: Top goal was getting eight drafted, not winning a title

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    John Calipari's "Players First" recruiting philosophy and the Kentucky fan base's thirst for championships clashed again Wednesday when the Wildcats coach addressed a crowd of 3,000 business executives after receiving a humanitarian award at Rupp Arena.

    Most of the 15-minute speech consisted of Calipari describing the qualities a good leader should have and explaining how he gets his players to come together in pursuit of a common goal. The only potential surprise was what Calipari insisted Kentucky's primary objective last season was.

    "Last year we started the season with a goal," Calipari said. "You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted. Well, how can you be about your team if you're worried about getting players drafted? We kind of work it the other way. What are your dreams? What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life? How can we help you with that?

    Wednesday's speech certainly isn't the first time Calipari has made headlines by seemingly prioritizing draft picks over championship rings.

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  • Virginia upgrades schedule to reflect its newfound elite stature

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The past two years, Virginia's modest non-conference slate didn't reflect its sudden emergence as a national power.

    That will change next season when the two-time ACC champions will play a non-league schedule worthy of their newfound elite status. 

    The marquee non-league game on Virginia's schedule next season will be a potential top 10 clash against reigning Big East champion Villanova. The Cavaliers will host the Wildcats next December and play a return game in Philadelphia the following season, reported Tuesday.

    In addition to that intriguing matchup, Virginia will also host a loaded Cal team expected to crack the top 20 in the preseason polls next year. The Cavaliers will also visit Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, face Big 12 power West Virginia on a neutral floor in the Jimmy V Classic and travel to George Washington in a return game of a home-and-home series that began last season.

    Virginia should have enough returning talent to thrive despite its upgraded schedule.

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  • Stephen Colbert mocks Wake Forest sports in graduation speech

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    When Wake Forest invited comedian Stephen Colbert to deliver its commencement address on Saturday, athletic director Ron Wellman had to know a joke at his department's expense was surely going to be part of the speech.

    The Demon Deacons endured a dismal 2014-15 school year in the major sports, finishing with a 3-9 record in football, a 13-19 record in men's basketball and a 13-20 record in women's basketball.

    Sure enough, Colbert didn't disappoint. He mocked the state of the Wake Forest athletic department with a joke that referenced the student body's longtime tradition of toilet-papering the trees in the quad after memorable victories.

    "Still, while Wake has been a trailblazer, this is a school that respects tradition," Colbert said. "Traditions like rolling the Quad with toilet paper after big wins. And this is actually an eco-friendly tradition because, looking at this season’s win-loss record, you guys saved a lot of paper."

    Colbert's joke received more chuckles than boos but immediately afterward he found a way to get even the most ardent defenders of Wake Forest sports back on his side.

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  • Caleb Swanigan's commitment creates a challenge for Matt Painter

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Purdue will certainly be bigger after landing a McDonald's All-American for the first time in 19 years on Tuesday afternoon.

    Whether the Boilermakers will also be drastically better will depend on Matt Painter's ability to turn a logjam at center into a strength rather than a weakness.

    Five-star prospect Caleb Swanigan is a strong, sure-handed low-post scorer who is most comfortable in the paint on both ends of the floor. He joins a frontcourt that already possesses a pair of centers with similar skill sets — 7 footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas.

    For that arrangement to work, Swanigan is probably going to have to spend the majority of his time at power forward.

    The upside will be that Purdue will frequently have two dominant rebounders and low-post threats on the floor, which should create mismatches against smaller opponents who play only one true big man at a time. The downside will be that Swanigan will have to prove on defense that he can stay in front of more nimble Big Ten forwards like Indiana's Troy Williams, Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes and Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff.

    It's a good problem for Purdue to have, but Painter will have to be creative to solve it.

  • Illinois women's basketball hit with allegations of player abuse

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    At a time when the Illinois football program is already under investigation for alleged mistreatment of players, the school's women's basketball coaches also face similar accusations.

    Parents of three of the four Illinois players who have left the program since the end of the 2014-15 season sent letters to university officials alleging misconduct by head coach Matt Bollant and associate coach Mike Divilbiss. The Champaign News-Gazette published copies of the letters, which accuse Bollant and Divilbiss of creating racial tension on the team, emotionally and verbally abusing players and jeopardizing their health by forcing them to play through major injuries.

  • In big win for new coach Mike White, Florida retains top recruit

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Michael White's first big victory at Florida arrived months before he'll coach the Gators in a game for the first time.

    The former Louisiana Tech coach persuaded highly touted shooting guard prospect KeVaughn Allen to honor his pledge to Florida.

    Allen,'s No. 67 prospect in the class of 2015, had been wavering since Billy Donovan jumped to the NBA to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder. His stepfather John Curry told Arkansas radio host Bo Mattingly a couple weeks agothat Allen intended to seek a release from his letter of intent, but White was able to gain Allen's trust on Monday after meeting with him in person.

    Of the four signees, Allen could be the most critical next season. The high-scoring 6-foot-2 Arkansas native will likely have a chance to play immediately at wing with Michael Frazier declaring for the NBA draft and fellow starter Eli Carter opting to transfer. 

  • Buzz Williams cracks up reading mean tweets about himself

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    One thing is clear after watching the above video of Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams reading mean tweets about himself.

    He doesn't take himself too seriously.

    Williams laughs at himself constantly while borrowing an always funny bit from the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He chuckles at someone insisting he has the "fattest neck" they've ever seen. He howls when someone says his hoarse voice sounds like he gargled with barbed wire. He even smiles when someone compares one of his ties to a Super 8 bedspread.

    The only other takeaway from the video: How does Williams not know who actor Channing Tatum is? Take a couple hours off from recruiting this summer, Buzz, and go watch 21 Jump Street.

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    Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Top transfer Sterling Gibbs elevates expectations for UConn next season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    The outlook for UConn improved dramatically over the weekend when the Huskies landed maybe the most accomplished graduate transfer to change schools this spring.

    Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall's leading scorer this past season, announced he has chosen UConn over Ohio State, Pittsburgh and a handful of other top suitors.

    The addition of Gibbs, fellow graduate transfer Shonn Miller and a pair of top 100 recruits gives UConn hope of bouncing back from a 20-15 campaign last season that ended with an opening-round NIT loss. The Huskies have enough talent to potentially crack the preseason top 25 despite the graduation of star guard Ryan Boatright.

    There's no bigger reason for optimism than Gibbs, who should replace Boatright as UConn's main perimeter threat to score himself or create for others. The 6-foot-2 rising senior averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists and shot 43.6 percent from behind the arc this past season for a Seton Hall team that ascended into the top 25 in early January but crumbled amid injuries and internal dissension thereafter. 

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  • Roy Williams surprises bullying victim with heartfelt letter

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    At a time when Drew Summerlin felt the lowest, the 11-year-old with Asperger's received a morale boost from his favorite basketball team.

    University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams sent Summerlin an autographed team picture and a heartfelt letter last week encouraging him to remain strong despite months of torment from bullies at his school.

    The envelope from Williams arrived about two weeks after a group of boys attacked Summerlin during lunch at Iroquois Middle School in Rochester, N.Y. Summerlin sustained a concussion severe enough that he had to stay home from school the next few days.

    "I'm so sorry and upset with what you have been going through," Williams wrote. "Someday those kids will realize how terribly they acted and will be ashamed.

    Seeing their son happy was special for his parents because Summerlin had endured a rough couple months at school.

    For Summerlin's parents, last month's attack was the final straw.